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The 80

One of the linguistic quirks that one might even call a dialectical distinguishing mark for Californians is that we put a The in front of road names. To demonstrate this in a sentence: Last night I was driving on the 80 through the Sierra Mountains.

Which is also a true sentence, not just a linguistic utterance. It is also true that I was very grateful to have had six years of driving in Iceland, and up and down Reykjanesbraut, to boost my confidence while navigating the 80 in the midst of a snowstorm.

I suspect there are also Reykjavík dialectical markers. I' reading an Icelandic book right now, which means I occasionally encounter words I don't know.  All the words ive needed to look up have not been in the dictionary.  The author
is either using such modern Icelandic that it isn't in the dictionary, or making words up a la Laxness, or speaking Reykjavíkese.

Icelandic Provisions

My new job does not afford me much time to maintain my blog, nor keep up with news in Iceland. But with a sore throat and stuffy head, I've been home for two days now resting, catching up on some reading and writing. Reading an article for peer review related to the sagas, and writing script about the Norse gods. That is a happy beginning to the new year for me.

And I'm happy to report that there is now available at the stores in the U.S. a product called "Icelandic Provisions". It is skyr, and comes in a nifty square container, unlike all the other yogurts in circular shapes. I'm digging it. OK, well, more important than the packaging is that it actually tastes like Skyr! I applaud Siggi for trying his healthy weird skyr like thing in the stereotypical round container, but I am so glad that a more authentic product is on the market. I think MS Mjolk owns it, and I am very glad they have figured out a marketing strategy that allows their products to reach U.S. co…

Silly Stanford

I started work at the Los Altos History Museum on Monday, which is a few miles away from Stanford University. Stanford used to have a professor of Old Norse literature, and a very distinguished one at that. But about a decade ago that went poof! And they have never replaced the position.

So I guess I'll be going to Berkeley for Old Norse lectures.

Tím breyting

I don't know when the clocks will officially spring forward, but for me it's two weeks from now, when I start my new job. I'm saying goodbye to academia, and to Scandinavian studies, for awhile at least, working on my leadership and management skills, as well as exhibit skills, at a dedicated museum. Should be a good change, and I'm happy and excited to be getting back to California, and back to my son. I've been away too long.

I've been happy and confident and relaxed about beginning a new phase of my life, although tonight I feel a bit melancholy. I guess the part about not having any professional reason to go to Iceland ever again is kind of weird for me. I was realizing last night that as I fall asleep, I'm often visualizing myself wandering alone around the streets of Reykjavík. I spent a lot of time doing that when I lived in Iceland, and some of the time I was crying. As I am now.

Day 8

Well it is 8 days into the Trump administration, and it already feels like years. Years living in some sort of bizarre alternative reality. Things are not unfolding as I would have wanted them to, not by a long shot, for the country as a whole. Day to day for me personally, life goes on as if none of this madness in Washington matters. But it does matter. Immigrants stopped at the airport, subjected to confusing interrogations. Our international obligations to care for families and the environment, to expand economic opportunity, tossed out the window. Wow, it is just so dumbfoundingly stupefying. The waste of it all, watching potential evaporate minute by minute, but in slow motion, as if it were taking days, weeks, months and years. And having no way to turn back the hands of time, to undo this disaster. Under Obama, it seemed the emerging global world was on the verge of environmental and economic responsibility and justice. I miss that feeling. And I'm sad it was all so epheme…

A new administration

It is Day 5 living within the new administration. And I just finished reading Mostly Harmless, the fifth in a trilogy by Douglas Adams. It seems apropos, in this world of "alternative facts." 

What we have learned so far is that the media, whose function in a democracy had been very robust, is now relegated to only saying nice, friendly, positive things. Under the new administration, dissent is not popular or appreciated. But congratulations will be accepted.

Ah yes, Mostly Harmless. I just found out that my oldest brother, Billy, who passed away while I was living in Iceland, was a huge fan of Douglas Adams. His birthday was on Sunday, and I lit a candle for him at church. I don't know if his soul is anywhere in particular these days, or if prayers can do anything to rescue lost souls, but I do hope he is resting in peace. When he was alive, he brought much joy into our lives.

And no matter what, the planet is going to be removed by the Vogons soon enough.

Teaching Old Norse in North America

Today there was another "terrorist attack" at a university in the United States. A young man from Somalia drove his car into a crowd of people, then jumped out and stabbed several others with a knife before the police shot him. Using one's car as a weapon appears to be a new terrorist tactic, at least it is similar to what was done in Paris over Bastille Day. And he's Muslim; he'd been quoted in the school paper saying how hard it was for Muslims to find a place to pray at the university a few months earlier.

A friend of mine works at The Ohio State University, where this attack took place. She and I went to Berkeley together, we both studied Old Norse. She wrote her dissertation on the figure of Odinn as a "guest" in several different genres of Old Norse literature. She's more of a folklorist, interested in the subconscious and symbolic, whereas I am more interested in human-material interactions. I felt really bad for her today, what a terrible th…